April 15, 2024

How podcast networks are testing AI tools for faster translation and ad sales

Podcast networks, such as Acast, iHeartMedia and Spotify, are also testing these tools to increase their reach to potential customers, expand the range of programs that fit the buyer’s needs, and translate programs into different languages.

To translate

iHeartMedia is testing a range of generative AI tools to translate some of its podcast show files into different languages ​​to reach listeners in international markets, said Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group. iHeartMedia declined to share which AI companies they were using to test the translations. The technology will be used to transcribe, translate and then express the translations. An iHeartMedia spokesperson said the company is working with podcast producers to test the quality of translations in both the AI-generated voices and the voices of the original hosts.

The translated shows will give podcast networks “an opportunity to globalize a medium that until now has been largely U.S.-centric,” Byrne said. “I think this may be our best opportunity in a long time for the podcast industry to go global, to offer content in the country and in the language of the entire world.”

By the end of this quarter, iHeartMedia plans to introduce five to 10 shows translated into languages ​​such as Spanish, French, German and Italian, Byrne said. The shows will likely be evergreen, general interest and limited series shows, he added, but declined to share the names of the shows. Byrne also declined to comment on whether these programs would contain warnings that they were generated in part by artificial intelligence technology.

Spotify is also testing generative AI to translate podcast audio. In September, the company announced that it was launching a pilot program with some podcasters to test AI-generated voice translations into other languages.

“While this type of technology definitely brings challenges, our focus is on helping creators connect with audiences, monetize their art, and build careers,” Brian Berner, Spotify’s global head of advertising sales and partnerships, said in an email. .

For advertising sale

Since AI tools were added to Acast’s self-serve advertising platform last summer, nearly 40% of podcasters receiving requests from advertisers had never worked directly with advertisers before, Acast’s chief product officer said. , Matt MacDonald.

Called Collections+, the AI-powered tool pulls podcast and listener data from different sources (including the Podchaser podcast database, which Acast acquired in 2022) to automatically group podcasts into contextual categories. This allows Acast to package smaller shows from Acast’s podcast catalog to meet advertisers’ requirements, MacDonald explained.

Acast chief commercial officer Greg Glenday said the company is working with a national advertiser, whom he declined to name, on a multimillion-dollar campaign. The advertiser named 11 programs that he wanted to buy to reach a particular audience. Glenday said his team used AI technology to show the advertiser what it would look like to buy 52 shows that reached the same target demographic, but reached greater scale and at lower CPMs, and is providing third-party measurement research to the bell. As a result, the advertiser’s budget did not change, he said.

“We can eliminate manual work [of reaching 52 shows to] eliminate all obstacles for that brand and that buyer. Then suddenly [AI] “It’s a true media outreach vehicle and not just something new and fun,” Glenday said. “Spread the revenue over more inventory and create a much better business.”

During iHeartMedia’s third-quarter earnings call with shareholders on Nov. 9, CEO Bob Pittman said the company was providing some of its salespeople with AI-enhanced tools to help them prospect and communicate with podcast customers. , in addition to using artificial intelligence tools for dynamic ad insertion. to improve messaging and voice for specific demographic groups.

For production assistance

Generative AI tools can help podcasters in the production phase by helping them with tasks like researching, scheduling, editing and publishing content, Byrne said. iHeartMedia is working with podcast producers to test AI tools like Jasper and Microsoft Copilot as research and writing assistants, with human supervision. While those tests are “slower … those things have gone from being theoretical, nice-to-haves, to this quarter, they’re going to become really real,” Byrne said.

Some of the trials for Acast’s content productions are also in the early stages, MacDonald said. One use case the company is exploring is using generative AI tools to help podcast creators outline production schedules over a given period of time. Acast is also interested in using predictive AI models to assess trends in emerging content and podcast listener demographics to inform business decisions, such as which podcasts they add to their network, Glenday said.

But not for everything related to podcasting

Not all podcast networks jump in headfirst. Gina Garrubbo, president and CEO of NPR affiliate National Public Media, said AI will be a “big deal” in podcasting this year in areas such as content creation, commercial messaging and audience segmentation. but noted that NPR is not “ready” to discuss how the technology would be applied to NPR yet. Garrubbo confirmed that NPR was not yet testing the technology for those use cases.

At the end of the day, executives experimenting with this technology were quick to say that generative AI tools cannot replace human talent, especially hosts.

“We are cautious about saying that AI can do things that unique and incredible human talent can do today. But as sort of a personal assistant, if you will, to every producer or executive producer that we have, that’s the vein that we’re interested in exploring,” Byrne said. “AND [we’re] Without exaggerating, without saying that AI is going to completely reverse and disrupt all media. It’s not.”

For now, Acast is not interested in testing AI tools for ad creation or replacing a podcast host, Glenday said. “I can’t imagine listening to a virtual voice review movies once a week,” she said.

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